Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bulletstorm will kidnap your firstborn.

I’m exactly one minute in to the Bulletstorm demo, I haven’t even taken control of my character, but have already come to master an entire volume of new curse words; Butterdick, dick-tits, fuck-ton, poop-passage, bean-bag and spud to name a few. Unlike a-lot of other demos I've played recently, instead of appealing to the potential customer with promises of innovative gameplay, futuristic weapons and vast environments, Bulletstorm whips open it’s trench-coat to reveal a vulgar, violent and vilifying sample of it’s complete form.

Not since Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the Nintendo 64 has a game succeeded in lassoing my flighty attention span with explicit language and violence in such perfect doses. From the moment you fill the boots of the protagonist (a textbook disgruntled marine by the name of Grayson) it becomes quite clear that Bulletstorm knows it’s place as a tongue-in-cheek, almost satirical, romp through an unknown landscape loosely tied together by a plot that makes Starship Troopers look like a touching glimpse into young love and the prospective benefits of life on other planets. Seriously, I’ve played through the demo 8 times now and all I’ve gathered is that Grayson is PISSED and therefore his comrades are also pissed by association. I think they’re after someone, or they’re trying to save something, but it’s hard to focus on such minutiae when you’re leashing intergalactic mohawked tribesman, launching them into the skies above and blowing their groins out in slow motion with a gun that looks like a car engine. Mind you, these are only impressions gathered from the opening cut-scene, the demo itself is set in a game mode separate from the actual campaign so I'm sure to have my face rocked even harder when the full story is revealed.

The points-based battle system is a much-needed return to the days of yonder when, you know, games were based on accumulating points as opposed to sitting through weeks of cut-scenes, and as those +100’s, +250’s and kill variations filled the screen I couldn’t help but be reminded of the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that sparked my love for video games all those years ago. The action is frantic but never overwhelming, a formula assisted by the exotic weaponry at my disposal which ensured that at the most hectic of times I felt like I had full control over the situation and that progress was only a few headshots around the corner. It felt like Bulletstorm wanted me to experience it's charm without convincing me to tear shreds from my controller with my teeth; this is how I feel all First Person Shooters should present themselves. If I wanted to solve puzzles and become enveloped in the pasts, presents, and futures of intricate characters and be blown away by shocking plot twists, I’d go get a rubik’s cube and watch Twin Peaks.

After spending only a short time with the unfortunately brief demo, I foresee Bulletstorm enjoying a cult status shared by the likes of MDK and XIII, two massively under-appreciated shooters whose success was hampered by poor sales and snobby critics who just didn’t get it. As stated prior, Bulletstorm knows exactly what it’s meant to do and who it’s meant to appeal to. I can not fu**ing wait for this game to come out next month and in the meantime I’ll no doubt be filling my time by mastering the demo and referring to my close friends as butterdicks, dick-tits, bean bags and spuds.